They say that remodeling your home can be one of the most difficult things to go through during a marriage. Amanda and I are having 30 year carpet removed and floors installed. While I’m confident that our marriage will survive, I wasn’t so sure that my children would. The house is in shambles. Everything in the den is piled up to one side of the house, while all of the closet clothes are strewn throughout the upstairs.
Last week we played indoor games of “Cornhole” where the losing team had to make 6 trips upstairs with a handful of stuff, in preparation for the floor people. I have enough difficulty making through a typical day, when everything is working properly, so when you throw in this sort of chaos, I’m an absolute wreck. I’m like an animal being taken on a road trip and you let him out to pee in an unfamiliar area. I just run around in circles. I start this direction, come back this way, pee on the ground, and I lay down and start rubbing myself on the grass in absolute confusion- grasping for some semblance of control.
That’s what I look like at the war zone, which once was my home. There are certain areas of the home that are off-limits entirely, and if you can go to other areas, then you must take certain routes to get to them. For a guy who can spend the majority of his day split between looking for something to write with and his telephone, all while holding a pen in his mouth and telephone in his hand, this is a nightmare.
Yesterday morning at about 3am, I wake up to Amanda coming to bed after what appeared to be a summit attempt at Mt. Everest. She was dressed in about 12 layers of clothes, complete with a hoodie, and maybe gloves. Short of goggles, she looked like she was ready to hit the Black Diamond slopes and take home the gold medal. It turns out that we are out of propane. No heat. Dammit. It feels like we are perpetually out of propane. This falls totally on me, as all I have to do is walk about 20yards to the tank, and check the propane level on a regular basis. But I forget….like every time. There is an extra fee for running it completely out, because the gas company must perform a leak check with each empty container.
Everyone knows that during the middle of a remodel that what everyone wants is an extra expense coupled with a freezing house. Amanda does not give me the slightest bit of grief, as I imagine she knows that it was unintentional, and I will punish myself thoroughly enough. She also knows I’ll do the same thing again next year, but what the hell. Being that it takes about 3 business days to get the tank refilled, we will be relying on our wood burning stove and space heaters for comfort. The gentlemen installing the floors informed me that I needed to have the house warmed up if I wanted the thin-set to harden properly, and within a reasonable amount of time. They also informed me that we better get used to eating out, as the kitchen was going to be inaccessible for a few days.
Last night I pick up the kids from after-school care, and we are meeting Amanda for dinner. She gets off work a little bit late, and has to run home to let the dog out. We eat a late dinner and head home to Hiroshima. It is pouring rain and I have to go down to the tractor garage to get firewood. I take a 2-wheel dolly and some rope to use as a vehicle for moving firewood. My Gator is blocked by a trailer, so my usual transportation is inaccessible, as are most things for which I need access. As I am loading the wood, in the pouring rain, BOOM!! A tire on the dolly blows out and sounds like a shotgun blew off. It scared the hell out of me, but I was still able to roll it up the muddy hill.
We get the fire going, Grayson makes his way to his bed as if carefully maneuvering through a minefield of clothes that have been “temporarily relocated” to his room, and Andie Kate conks out on the couches in the den, which are crammed together among a heaping pile of house “stuff”. Throughout all of this, I am basically acting like a big a-hole. My patience is short, my attention scattered, and the usual barrage of questions that are a staple of 9 and 6 year old kids is just more than I can handle. Amanda senses my frustration and instead of joining in on the frustration, and turning this into an opportunity for an argument, she chooses to be all the more nurturing and patient with the children, so as they don’t feel that any of my frustration is their fault (instead they just accept that their dad is acting like a child). I finally make it to bed, and am hoping to be pissing rainbows and farting butterflies at 5am this morning.
It’s 5am. No butterflies. No rainbows. I get a shower in my freezing cold bathroom. I go upstairs and wake up Grayson. He gets in his shower upstairs. As I am walking downstairs, I hear what I believe is a water leak coming from the shower above. There has been a leak there in the past, but I believed I had repaired it. Being that we just had our ceilings done, this was NOT the time for another problem. I bark at Grayson to “wrap it up, and shut the shower off.” He asks why, and I read him the riot act. “Just do what I tell you to do and don’t ask any questions. Go shower in Andie’s bathroom blarblarblar blar bluh”.
I am trying to get clothes out for the kids. Then, I remember that I have to pick them up lunch before school, and have no way to cook them breakfast. My whole routine is screwed all to hell. I ignorantly tell Grayson to get in the other shower. He informs me that there is a toilet sitting in that shower. Andie Kate is now up and needs to be tended to. She says, “I have to use the restroom”. I say with frustration, as she does not need to ask me every time she needs to use the restroom, “well then use the dad-gum restroom.” With her most innocent cadence and the biggest blue eyes you have ever seen, she says “daddy, there is no toilet, just a big hole with a nasty sock in it.”
“Goshdernflubberbubberdangitfuuuuurrrkthursonoferrrboooooger” is pretty much what is going through my head. I go this way, and I dance that way. I am running to grab this, but remember that, while forgetting this, but picking up this, and cursing that, but it occurs to me this, but I can’t remember what, and I need to pack this, but dress them in that, and take them to there, but drop them off where, when all of a sudden it occurs to me that I am losing my gosh dang mind. My head is about to explode, and I can’t decide what or who I am going to break into pieces, but something has to give, and it did. Something finally gave. Andie Kate patiently approaches me with a brush and bands in her hand. In a voice that can only come from something that has created this perfect world says…..
“Daddy……. will you put my hair in pigtails?”
[breathes deeply] “Of course I will, sweetheart” is my response. At that moment I can’t think of a single reason in this whole world, when that would not be my response. It is my only response. There is no other response. There is no conceivable situation where there would be any other response than this. “Of course, I will, sweetheart”. There is nothing in this universe that I think I enjoy doing more than brushing Andie’s hair. As she sits on my lap just as straight up as an arrow, and excitedly taps on the sides of my thighs, just as wonderfully out of rhythm, as only a perfect child can tap. It is only then can I grasp how unimportant my concerns of the day have been so far. There is nowhere on this planet that I want to be right now.
Forget the concerns over a lack of propane, when you have wood burning stove and wood. Whats a leaking shower, when you have another available? Some people wish they had a floor, let alone a hole to pee in, and we have two other toilets. The toilet in the shower, it’s a perfectly good toilet, it just happens to be temporarily in the shower. And the refrigerator? it’s still there, it’s just out of reach. VERY, VERY slight inconveniences that I have let mount into real problems. It can all burn, if it means I have my family. Take it all from me in one big fiery u-haul and dump it in a landfill, if it means another opportunity to put Andie’s hair in pigtails.
There was a time when all I wanted was to want to be a father to my children. Today, I am more than a father, I am daddy. I am certainly not the best daddy in the world, but I am far from the worst. Daddies get pissed off and bent outta shape sometimes, but children are forgiving. Sometimes a remote control not being where I can find it is enough to turn me into an absolute monster, but that monster can be domesticated. That monster can be tamed. My children know that when they see that monster, he needs to go play catch, or put his girl’s hair in pigtails. I love my children and I love my family, much the same way that my parents have loved me. I’m a fortunate, fortunate man.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,